The European Chief Prosecutor has requested the lifting of immunity of two Greek Members of the European Parliament. The request for lifting of immunity of Maria Spyraki (ND/EPP) and Eva Kaili (PASOK/S&D) is due to a suspicion of fraud detrimental to the EU budget, in relation to the management of the parliamentary allowance.
In a statement issued on Thursday afternoon, December 15 the European Prosecutor states:
Today, in accordance with the procedures laid down by Union law, the European Chief Prosecutor requested the lifting of immunity of Ms Eva Kaili, Member of the European Parliament, and Ms Maria Spyraki, Member of the European Parliament.
Based on an investigative report received from the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), there is a suspicion of fraud detrimental to the EU budget, in relation to the management of the parliamentary allowance, and in particular concerning the remuneration of Accredited Parliamentary Assistants.
In accordance with the national applicable law, Ms Kaili and Ms Spyraki are entitled to the presumption of innocence.
European Chief Prosecutor requests lifting of immunity of two Members of the European Parliament. There is a suspicion of fraud detrimental to the EU budget, in relation to the management of the parliamentary allowance.
— European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) (@EUProsecutor) December 15, 2022
This case is apparently different from the one concerning Qatar.
MEP of the ruling New Democracy Maria Spyrakis reportedly made the following statement regarding the European Attorney General’s request to lift her immunity:
“I gladly accept the request to lift my immunity in order to make it clear that I do not have a single euro of financial difference with the European Parliament. The issue concerns the allowance of a former foreign co-worker, who faced a serious personal problem and had some absences from the meeting place of the European Parliament. I have nothing to do with Qatar-Gate, I have nothing to do with any other case.”
Speaking to ANT1 TV, MEP Spyraki that such issues incl. lifting of MEPs immunity are common in the EP and that she had no idea.
Asked whether the issue had anything to do with the Qatar-Gate investigation, Spyraki responded “I have nothing to say on that.”
The European Public Prosecutor’s Office
The European Public Prosecutor’s Office started operating on June 1, 2021, as an “independent body of the European Union.”
According to the European Council website, it is “competent to investigate, prosecute and bring to justice crimes against the EU’s financial interests, such as: fraud, corruption, money laundering, cross-border VAT fraud.”
Laura Kovesi has been at the helm of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office since the very beginning.
The European Public Prosecutor’s Office targets cases of transnational fraud, misuse of European funds, etc. beyond cases of violation of European sanctions.
However, of the 27 EU member states, only 22 have joined the European Public Prosecutor’s Office so far: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Greece, Estonia, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Croatia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech Republic and Finland.
In contrast, countries such as Poland and Hungary reject any form of cooperation.